The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and the National Council of Jewish Women all praised President Obama’s signing of the bill expanding and reauthorizing SCHIP, which provides funds to states to insure children whose parents cannot afford private insurance but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. Here are their statements, starting with JCPA:
Congress and the president have taken an important step to ensure the health and safety of children in the United States by quickly passing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), says a leading Jewish advocacy group.
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) praised today’s signing of the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, which will extend healthcare coverage to an additional 4.1 million children, covering a total of more than 11 million children across the United States. Additionally, this year’s bill waives the five-year waiting period for legal immigrant children and pregnant women. This provision would allow legal immigrant children and pregnant women to have access to urgent medical care regardless of the number of years they have legally lived in the United States.
Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of JCPA, was among the dignitaries invited by President Obama to participate in today’s signing ceremony.
"It was exceptionally rewarding to watch President Obama sign this bill into law today. JCPA and many other groups have worked tirelessly to
keep this bill alive, which ensures that some of the most vulnerable sections of the population in this country get access to life-saving health care," says Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. "Maimonides tells us that ‘A person should see to it that the body is kept healthy and strong in order that they may be upright to know G-d. For it is impossible to understand and comprehend wisdom when one is hungry and ailing or if one’s limbs ache.’ If this is true for all people, it is even more true for growing children in the formative period of their lives. With the passage of this law, we are more able to insure that America’s children will be healthy and strong and wise and able to know G-d."
JCPA was actively engaged in working towards the passage of SCHIP since it was first considered for renewal in 2007. The group strongly advocated for the inclusion of the Immigrant Children Health Improvement Act (ICHIA). They have been a leading voice in the faith-community on this issue.
The State Children’s Health Insurance Program provides health coverage to low-income children in working families who are ineligible for Medicaid coverage but unable to afford private insurance. Both the U.S. House and Senate approved similar legislation in the 110th Congress, but a final children’s healthcare bill was never signed into law.
The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) today hailed enactment of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) reauthorization. NCJW President Nancy Ratzan released the following statement:
"The long-awaited reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) signed into law today by President Obama has been a truly bipartisan effort. This important bill adds 4.1 million low-income children, for a total of 11 million, to the rolls of the insured and will now reach children whose parents cannot afford coverage in higher-cost markets. Further, it extends coverage to pregnant women and children of legal immigrants and increases funding for state outreach efforts to enroll more children.
"While passage of SCHIP reauthorization is long overdue, it is still but one step toward the ultimate goal of ensuring that all US residents have access to high quality, affordable health care. The struggle for truly universal health care is ongoing, and we pledge our renewed efforts toward that critically important end. We look forward to working with the president and Congress on that mammoth task.”
Finally, the RAC:
In response to today’s signing into law of the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
Today we celebrate the signing into law of the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 and the expansion of health care coverage to over 4 million additional low-income children. This overdue legislation will provide a much-needed safety net for our nation’s families who are struggling in the current economic crisis.
This is a momentous day for children’s health care. We are inspired by our Jewish tradition, which teaches that, “By the breath of children, God sustains the world” (Talmud Bavli, Shabbat 119b). For more than a decade, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) has sustained our nation’s children by helping reduce their uninsured rate by almost a third. SCHIP provides essential access to quality, affordable, life-saving and preventative care to children in working families whose parents make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but still lack health coverage. By enacting this SCHIP renewal and expansion, we are investing in America’s future, ensuring that 11 million children, including legal immigrant children, receive the health care they deserve.
Our Movement’s commitment to universal healthcare is longstanding. For nearly two years, Reform Jews across the country called, emailed and visited their Members of Congress, urging the reauthorization and expansion of SCHIP so that more children in need could benefit from this essential program. We look forward to the day when all children and all Americans have access to affordable, comprehensive health care.